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Bangladesh jails eight over fake Covid test reports

Bangladesh jails eight over fake Covid test reports
July 19, 2022 Web Desk

DHAKA (AFP) - A Bangladesh court on Tuesday jailed eight people for 11 years each for issuing thousands of false negative coronavirus test reports, a prosecutor said.

Private medical firm JKG Healthcare collected samples and issued fake results to about 16,000 people, a court in the capital Dhaka said.

The firm's high-profile owners Ariful Haque Chowdhury and his wife Sabrina, along with six of their staff, were each jailed for 11 years for fraud and forgery, said public prosecutor Azad Rahman.

"They have betrayed the nation," he told reporters. "This is a well-deserved punishment for them."

Nearly two million people have tested positive for coronavirus in Bangladesh, where at least 29,241 have died since the virus was first detected in March 2020, according to government data.

Health authorities contracted the firm to provide patients with free testing services, but allegations emerged that JKG was issuing false negative reports to patients in return for a fee.

The company discarded samples collected from patients door-to-door and then issued mostly false reports based on people's physical conditions, the prosecutor said.

Several countries imposed restrictions on arrivals from Bangladesh after migrant workers -- an essential contributor to the country's economy -- holding negative test results later proved to have the virus.

Sabrina Chowdhury was sacked from her job as a doctor at a top state-owned hospital after her arrest.

The couple's lawyer Pranob Kanti Bhowmik said his clients would appeal the verdict.